Graduate School Requirements
Once you have defined the list of schools that you intend to apply to, find out what their application process and timetable is. This information can usually be found on the “Admission Requirements” page of the school's website. If not, contact the school via phone to get answers. Each school will have their own process, so make sure that you find out requirements early and make a spreadsheet of what is due, where is should be delivered, and when it needs to get there. The idea is that this tool will keep you on track to make sure that you get everything where it needs to be on time!
Although each school is different, here is a sample list of what is traditionally included in an application:
Transcripts - Arrange to have two (2) sealed official academic transcripts from every post-secondary institution you have attended sent directly to the school department to which you are applying (this destination is not always the Graduate Admissions Dept). Transcripts are generally ordered from each respective Registrar's Office. Often times, you can find a transcript request form on the school's website which you can print, sign, and fax to request that the transcripts be sent. Make sure that you are aware of the estimated processing time and arrival so that your transcripts arrive in time. There is sometimes a small fee required for this service.
Standardized Tests - Most graduate schools require that you complete some form of standardized test. Check the specific application requirements for each school regarding. Three of the common tests are:
|Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test: If scores from the GRE General or Subject Test are required, schools generally want them to be from a test taken within the last five years. You can take the GRE test once a month for as many times as you wish, but know that there is a fee to take the test each time. Make sure that you take the test in time for your score to arrive at the schools where you are applying. You can access the GRE testing site for test locations and more information; http://www.ets.org|
|Law School Admission Test (LSAT): The LSAT test is offered 4 times per year. Registration to take the test is done by phone and is on a first-come-first-served basis. You will want to sign up as soon as you know you will take the test. Make sure that you take the test in time for your score to arrive at the schools where you are applying. You can access contact information on the LSAT website; http://www.lsat.org/LSAT/TheLSAT-menu.asp|
|Medical College Admission Test (MCAT): You can take the MCAT test a total of three (3) times per year, but know that there is a fee to take the test each time. Registration to take the test is generally 4 months prior to the test date. Make sure that you take the test in time for your score to arrive at the schools where you are applying. You can access the MCAT testing site for test locations and more information; http://www.aamc.org/students/mcat/|
Letters of recommendation – Most graduate programs will require at least one letter of recommendation. Find out what the specific letter requirements are, as there are usually parameters around who should write the letter and in what format. Sometimes, schools will provide an on-line form that the evaluator can access and electronically deliver the recommendation through. Take your time and make sure that you ask the most appropriate evaluator(s) per the instructions. Also, it is very important to communicate with your evaluator as to how to steer the recommendation, based on school format request. It is always helpful to send your evaluator your Personal Statement for guidance.
Personal statement and/or admissions essay(s) – It is often thought that the Personal Statement is the 2nd most important document in your application (after your transcript). Follow the directions when writing the Personal Statement. If there are no specific directions, just know that the Personal Statement should concisely describe your reasons for applying to the proposed program, your preparation for this field of study, your research interests, future career plans, and other aspects of your background which may aid the admissions committee in evaluating your aptitude and motivation for graduate study. Your statement should not generally exceed two pages in length.